FERNDALE, Calif. — After years of deterioration since they were built in the early 1900s, the historic stain glass windows of the Old Steeple in Ferndale were recently renovated. The goal was to rebuild the glass windows to achieve a product as identical as possible to the original design and condition. This involved craftsmen scouring for the right pieces of glass and tediously piecing them together.
“It was definitely needed,” Emily Scilacci, an employee at the Old Steeple, said. She said some panels had been replaced over the years, but it was done incorrectly: the wrong type of glass, the wrong color, or just not replaced at all.
“If we didn’t [do the restoration] they would have fallen down and we would have lost them permanently,” Scilacci said.
The owner of the building, Paul Beatie, said the Old Steeple stopped operating as a church in the late 1950s to early 1960s. It now serves as a venue for concerts and shows, since the Ferndale Music Company joined in 2015. Keeping the Old Steeple as authentic as possible was important for Beatie, no matter how tedious the task.
“There are 20 windows and 4,526 pieces of glass,” Beatie said. “We were able to save most of it and the pieces we did replace are historically accurate. The textures and the colors are matched as close as they can be matched. They were done in the traditional way.”
Artemio Jimenez from Jimenez Glass, helped with the project.
“A lot of it was waiting to match glass,” Jimenez said. “We had to search for it, so, because of how old the windows are, finally we matched probably about 90 percent of it.”
Beatie said the issue surrounded the lead in the stained-glass window, which was soft and falling apart. “Structurally, they were getting ready to fall down. We were getting ready to lose a piece of art, so we had to save it,” Beatie said.
“We used 250 to 300 pounds of lead to put it back together,” Jimenez said. “It’s good for another 100 years, at least that’s what we’re praying.”
Beatie said the space and art are incredibly special and really belong to the Ferndale community.
“In Ferndale we have so many cool things that a town this size probably shouldn’t have,” Beatie said. “And this is just one more feather in the cap.”